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Jail Time For Price-Fixing Car Parts

Soulskill posted about 9 months ago | from the hey-they-did-something dept.

Crime 116

An anonymous reader writes "The U.S. Dept. of Justice has announced that Panasonic and its subsidiary Sanyo have been fined $56.5 million for their roles in price fixing conspiracies involving battery cells and car parts. The fines are part of a larger investigation into the prices of auto parts. Interestingly, 12 people at various companies have been sentenced to jail time, and three more are going to prison. Since the charges are felonies, none of the sentences are shorter than a year and a day. Criminal fines targeting these companies has totaled over $874 million. 'The conduct of Panasonic, SANYO, and LG Chem resulted in inflated production costs for notebook computers and cars purchased by U.S. consumers. These investigations illustrate our efforts to ensure market fairness for U.S. businesses by bringing corporations to justice when their commercial activity violates antitrust laws.'"

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116 comments

Banksters (2, Insightful)

Ultracrepidarian (576183) | about 9 months ago | (#44340479)

And the banksters go free.

Re:Banksters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44340515)

What banksters? It's Panasonic, and car parts. You don't need to involve banks to fix prices.

Re:Banksters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44340543)

Yet they still go free.

Where is the refund for consumers ? (4, Insightful)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 9 months ago | (#44340585)

The Fed caught the crooks, fined them, and threw some of them into the slammer.

But what about the consumers who had been cheated ?

Don't we deserve some refunds?

I mean, we paid overpriced batteries for our notebooks, overpriced car parts for our vehicles, and so on.

Don't we deserve to get our money back ?

Any attorney here ?

Re:Where is the refund for consumers ? (1)

Fjandr (66656) | about 9 months ago | (#44340629)

Government investigations result in fines going to the government. They don't pay out to us petty people. Those hurt have to sue the companies to get any compensation.

Re:Where is the refund for consumers ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44340665)

Yes! Launch a class action! After a few years, the lawyers will get a multi-million dollar payoff, and the poor wronged consumers will get a $5 off your next battery purchase voucher (redeemable within 12 months, terms and conditions apply). The system works!

Re:Where is the refund for consumers ? (2)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about 9 months ago | (#44340705)

the best way to get your money would have an attorney draft a letter telling them that you plane to file a case in small claims court for the cost of one laptop battery plus legal fees, point out that the cost of giving you a new battery would cost them less than it would to fight the case even if they won.

Re:Where is the refund for consumers ? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44340927)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategic_lawsuit_against_public_participation

The cost benefit analysis of your strategy is obvious. You not only don't have to spell it out to them, you weaken your case by stating the obvious. Doing so also exposes your inexperience and undermines your credibility.

Re:Where is the refund for consumers ? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 9 months ago | (#44343551)

The cost benefit analysis of your strategy is obvious. You not only don't have to spell it out to them, you weaken your case by stating the obvious. Doing so also exposes your inexperience and undermines your credibility.

You're both right. You point it out to them, but only in the process of sending them a document detailing the basic facts, which are that the battery costs such and such retail and that you are seeking such and such dollars. Unfortunately, if the letter doesn't come from some other lawyers, they will probably treat it as if it were written on a placemat with crayon.

meanwhile the govt collected extra taxes too (1)

cheekyboy (598084) | about 9 months ago | (#44340725)

So the govt it self is the receiver of proceeds of crime.

Collecting extra taxes and all the fines, good one.

The real criminals are the govt, give us less taxes, because you have collected too many dodgy ones.

So just like the RIAA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44340847)

After all, "copyright is theft, it is a crime", but the RIAA companies are getting billions in statutory fines (no restitution of losses, no loss has been proven, let alone proven of this magnitude), hence making money off criminal actions.

And did you notice who were profiting from criminal actions? That's right: the corporations.

Do you know what will be done if ALL criminal proceeds went to the government? You'd pay less tax. Therefore you're profiting from the proceeds of criminal profit.

BAD BOY.

Re:Where is the refund for consumers ? (2)

erroneus (253617) | about 9 months ago | (#44341015)

"The Fed" usually refers to the Federal Reserve Bank. It was the DOJ who brought this in and home. I'm astounded there was jail and prison time assigned. These white collar crimes of this nature don't result in such usually..,at least we never hear of it.

Ineed, the matter prosecuted was a criminal one. Based on the success of the criminal investigation and prosecution, civil suits should br brought. However, it will be the lawyers who win, not us.

Re:Where is the refund for consumers ? (-1, Troll)

killkillkill (884238) | about 9 months ago | (#44341269)

The consumers made the choice that the parts were worth more than the cash that they parted with. I don't see how they were cheated.

Re: Where is the refund for consumers ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44341355)

... right, next time my car breaks down, i shall fix it with windex instead of buying the appropriate part.

Re:Where is the refund for consumers ? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44341829)

And when they're mugged, most people decide their lives are worth more than the cash they parted with, so you see how they were cheated?

Re:Where is the refund for consumers ? (2)

mcgrew (92797) | about 9 months ago | (#44342443)

So you think collusion and price fixing should be legal?? You, sir, are talking utter nonsense.

only unions are allowed to collude (0, Troll)

raymorris (2726007) | about 9 months ago | (#44342593)

After the manufactures of the cars and laptops designed cars that needed these parts, the only suppliers who could make them in quantity COLLUDED to set high prices. The buyer's choice was

a) be overcharged
b) stop making cars

That's not a real choice. The buyer gets ripped off, paying twice as much as they would with competition instead of conspiracy. In the US, that's illegal. You go to jail for that. Unless of course you donate much of the ill-gotten gain to the Democrats, in which case its illegal for buyers to try break the conspiracy. In some states, sellers are REQUIRED to be part of the price-fixing conspiracy, aka union.

Re:Where is the refund for consumers ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44341731)

I could answer you, but I'm going to need it phrased in a car analogy first, please.

Re:Where is the refund for consumers ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44341833)

if you are lucky they won't increase your taxes this year ;)

Re:Where is the refund for consumers ? (0)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 9 months ago | (#44342429)

I would just like to point out laptop prices were collapsing during this period, as actual competition swamped this cheesy backroom stuff.

We know competition works -- it's the principle behind these anti-trust laws, right?

Re:Where is the refund for consumers ? (1)

whoever57 (658626) | about 9 months ago | (#44342731)

Don't we deserve some refunds?

I mean, we paid overpriced batteries for our notebooks, overpriced car parts for our vehicles, and so on.

Your taxes don't go up as much? Or, more realistically, the 1%'s taxes don't go up so much.

Re:Where is the refund for consumers ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44343141)

Their local competitors will be benefiting, directly affecting their employees and indirectly anyone in that country. So, yes, punishing crooked companies from abroad while ignoring similar dealings from local ones is a benefit. For someone anyway.

Re:Banksters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44340551)

Right, but since the GP has a painfully limited one-track mind presently loaded with this one hot-button issue, absolutely anything tangentially related to the concept of "crime" is an open invitation for him to bring up his pet gripe. Seriously, let the guy have his fun with this. It's his only connection to the outside world, and it's most likely a relief from him mumbling incoherently at his conspiracy theory wall all day long.

Re:Banksters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44341961)

Yet, you're the one that comes off as pathetic.

Re:Banksters (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44340565)

Yep. Banksters do far worse by several orders of magnitude and get away with it.The biggest crime of these companies is probably that they were foreign and did not do enough to buy off US politicians,

Re:Banksters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44340569)

you forget... the banksters were american, these companies were not.

Re:Banksters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44340587)

As U.K. banksters are also who deal the illiterate ship pirates and kidnappers' ransoms that go free while taking their juicy cut.

Re:Banksters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44340699)

Why would the banksters need public housing? That would be more important for the people having lost their houses.

Re:Banksters (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 9 months ago | (#44340727)

Well it turns out that the US justice system is one such that people have to actually violate a law to be tried and convicted, not to just make someone on Slashdot mad. So, if you think a banker should go to jail, then let's hear the details: Who is it, what law did they break, and what evidence do you have of this? Also remember it had to be illegal at the time they did it. If new laws were introduced later in response to what happened, those don't count, the US Constitution explicitly prohibits ex post facto laws.

"They caused the economy to crash!" is not a valid answer, and also shows a rather large amount of ignorance of the situation (if you think the downturn had a singular cause, you need to do more research).

This whining gets a little old. People cry that "the bankers" (or "banksters" in your case) should go to jail but yet never seem to be able to cite specifics. That to me says you don't actually know of any laws broken, you are just mad and think that you're angry should be reason enough to convict someone.

So, if there are specific cases you think should be prosecuted, then don't whine about "banksters" as some large group, any more than someone should whine about "hackers" as some large group. Post those specific cases. If not, then maybe spend some time reconsidering your position.

Re:Banksters (3, Insightful)

professionalfurryele (877225) | about 9 months ago | (#44340817)

Lets ignore the fact that your words ring hollow because they bribed and bought the system to make their acts legal. There were things which should at least result in a court case.

Improper reporting of their assets. They claimed their collateralised debt obligations were worth more than they were on their balance sheets and there is clear evidence they knew they were worth less than they claimed. How about Merril Lynch selling CDOs to Lonestar, claiming it was for 22% of the face value when the terms of the deal made it clear they were only selling them for about 6% of the face value.

Or for a more recent example HSBC acting as banker for the worlds terrorists and getting a slap on the wrist.

These people are scum, and some of them did illegal things. We should be going through our banking system one banker at a time searching all their records and looking for anything they may have done which was complicit in causing the crash and going after each and every one of them personally, no point in going after the banks themselves if we are just going to bail them out.

Re:Banksters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44340953)

Lanny Breuer and Eric Holder will have none of that. Both of them already had their thirty pieces of silver lined up when they were sworn in to public office. Their previous employer, a law firm specializing in defending white collar criminals, has some sweetheart positions for them once they're done makig a mockery of the DoJ.

http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org/2013/03/lanny-breuer-leaving-doj-for-4-mllionyear-job-at-eric-holders-law-firm/

Re:Banksters (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about 9 months ago | (#44340977)

We should be going through our banking system one banker at a time searching all their records and looking for anything they may have done which was complicit in causing the crash and going after each and every one of them personally, no point in going after the banks themselves if we are just going to bail them out..

No, you should be going after the government that executed ideas because they wanted to "open up the system." It's a fine bubble to live in when you believe that "da banks caused it all" when in fact many banks were against the idea of removing regulations in the first place. Especially when dealing with sub primes. Sadly the government in turn gave the banks and lenders the great ultimatum. Follow or loose FDIC backing. So the banks followed, and they gamed the hell out of it because it became legal to do so. But hey, keep living in that bubble. After all you guys in the US got this guy by the name of Bernanke, who believes "turning on the printing press..." is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Re:Banksters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44343051)

The bankers bought off the government. The gov't has been a pawn of the banks for a long, long time now. Don't try to dodge the issue. There's a lot of people who need to go to jail over this, but very likely won't.

Re:Banksters (1)

khallow (566160) | about 9 months ago | (#44341175)

Again, if it is legal, then it isn't a crime - by definition.

We should be going through our banking system one banker at a time searching all their records and looking for anything they may have done which was complicit in causing the crash and going after each and every one of them personally, no point in going after the banks themselves if we are just going to bail them out.

You need probably cause for that in the US. You don't have that, but just some vague feeling that they should have broken laws by acting as they did.

Re:Banksters (1)

professionalfurryele (877225) | about 9 months ago | (#44342291)

The two examples I gave are of things for which there are definitely laws against, and HSBC were let of with a slap on the wrist. That is why I listen them. We have probable cause, they misfiled their reports to the SEC, the value they claimed their assets had they didn't. I happy to let the few banks which didn't require bailout money go, for the rest we have a reasonable suspicion they mislead the regulator and can search their records.

Re:Banksters (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 9 months ago | (#44342853)

How about Merril Lynch selling CDOs to Lonestar, claiming it was for 22% of the face value when the terms of the deal made it clear they were only selling them for about 6% of the face value.

Merril Lynch and Lonestar are big boys. If they can't read and understand the fine-print, it's their own stupid fault. Both are global companies with plenty of lawyers.

They claimed their collateralised debt obligations were worth more than they were on their balance sheets and there is clear evidence they knew they were worth less than they claimed.

It doesn't matter what they 'knew,' it matters if they followed the rules of accounting.

they bribed and bought the system to make their acts legal.

Yeah, that's a serious problem, one that unfortunately Dodd-Frank makes worse.

no point in going after the banks themselves if we are just going to bail them out.

We shouldn't 'just' bail them out. Any bank that needs a bailout should be broken up and sold in pieces. This is what Paul Volcker proposed: too big to fail should be too big to exist.

Re:Banksters (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 9 months ago | (#44343573)

Merril Lynch and Lonestar are big boys. If they can't read and understand the fine-print, it's their own stupid fault. Both are global companies with plenty of lawyers.

If they made false claims with the intend to defraud, it's a crime.

It doesn't matter what they 'knew,' it matters if they followed the rules of accounting.

If they made false... oh, you know.

Re:Banksters (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 9 months ago | (#44343705)

If they made false claims with the intend to defraud, it's a crime.

The fine print is the full disclosure. The rest is understood to be non-binding. If they mislead in marketing to consumers, it might still be fraud, but not to sophisticated investors, who should understand that the contract is what matters, not the talking before-hand.

If they made false... oh, you know.

No, you are wrong, SOX requires following GAAP, even if it's completely misleading (which is why many companies are releasing a second accounting report in addition to GAAP financial report).

Re:Banksters (2)

dmbasso (1052166) | about 9 months ago | (#44340855)

Perhaps you should also do your homework, like getting informed of what is happening in the world. Preferably outside the media bubble that broadcasts lies for profit.

But I'll give you one breadcrumb, google for "libor fixing". I guess that will keep you entertained for a while.

Btw, do you think the term "too big to jail" arose without a reason? There was a recent senate hearing on banks, you can find some enlightening videos on youtube. Specifically, look for senator Elizabeth Warren's questions. I mention this in case you reply the recent libor fixing scandal was restricted to the UK... to find out what is happening in the US you need to actually investigate, but that's not going to happen.

Re:Banksters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44341401)

google

No.

Re:Banksters (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 9 months ago | (#44342987)

Specifically, look for senator Elizabeth Warren's questions.

If you're talking about this movie [youtube.com], you should realize you just fell for some great political theater. Seriously, even the title screams it. Hearings are a great way for politicians to look like they are doing something, and it's a tradition that goes back to the 1800s (if not longer), talking as though you will persecute big business, but then actually being on their side.

In the case of Elizabeth Warren, she's more then willing to defend big business, if they pay.

Be careful when you make a politician a hero, because it's almost always a mistake.

Re:Banksters (2)

bfandreas (603438) | about 9 months ago | (#44341197)

I find it remarkable that the corporate veil has actually been breached in this one. Usually personal wrong-doing is not prosecuted in price-fixing cases. The companies in question get fined and that's the end of it. Or at least that was my understanding.

Re:Banksters (2)

jellie (949898) | about 9 months ago | (#44341281)

Here's a recent example: Blythe Masters, an executive at JP Morgan Chase, may escape prosecution [nytimes.com] after having manipulated energy prices in California and Michigan. Officials have accused her of rigging prices, and they also accuse JP Morgan Chase of trying to cover up the evidence. Strangely, the recommendation was for a civil case, not a criminal case, against Ms. Masters.

Re:Banksters (2)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 9 months ago | (#44341303)

People cry that "the bankers" (or "banksters" in your case) should go to jail but yet never seem to be able to cite specifics.

S&P clearly committed fraud in giving its AAA credit ratings to instruments that clearly did not deserve them. People have been talking about this since 2008 - how could you have missed it as the most specific and provable cause of the financial crisis?

There was also substantial fraud in the CDO market that was very well publicized.

There were material misrepresentations and collusion in the Bear Stearns hit, watch the Frontline program on it, and ... wait, were you being facetious?

Re:Banksters (0)

Rich0 (548339) | about 9 months ago | (#44341429)

Well it turns out that the US justice system is one such that people have to actually violate a law to be tried and convicted, not to just make someone on Slashdot mad.

And that is why corruption is rampant on wall street. I do not think that it is possible to prevent major economic problems in the modern world simply by creating a set of detailed rules and strictly enforcing them. To be more explicit, I think that if your legal system is such that is possible to know whether an act is legal in advance of committing the act then the legal system will not be adequate for preventing undesired outcomes like insiders having unfair advantage, massive concentration of wealth, and the subversion of democracy by bribes.

The reason is simple - it is much easier to work around a law than to create a law. If Congress creates any set of laws, then millions of people will have huge incentives to avoid following the intent of those laws, and they'll look for loopholes that meet the letter of the law and find them. I do not believe it is possible to write a law that contains no loopholes if the enforcement of that law is held rigidly to the letter of the law. The law is slow to change, and those subverting the law are flexible and industrious. I know of a man who was teaching an ethics class for lawyers and most of the questions he got from his class basically amounted to working out exactly how egregiously the students could behave without being punished for it.

I think the only way to prevent things like what happened in 2008 is to round up a bunch of top-level executives from the major banks, declare that they have been found to have followed the letter of the law perfectly, and then sentence them to 20 years in prison anyway. That clearly would not be possible under the US legal system, but it would send a message that extraordinary antisocial behavior will be punished regardless of its legality.

Some of the bedrock principles of jurisprudence is that the law should be consistent and well-defined. It is these very principles that make it ineffective. In order to make it impossible to work around the letter of the law it must not be possible to be certain in advance whether a particular behavior is actually legal.

Re:Banksters (1)

sjames (1099) | about 9 months ago | (#44342175)

Multi-billion dollar fraud has been documented including knowingly selling junk as AAA. BOA continues illegally foreclosing on homes (even homes they don't hold a loan on in some cases). If the SEC, DOJ, etc don't see any crimes on Wall Street it's because they're looking the other way.

Re:Banksters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44343071)

Not this shit again. The crime is FRAUD, plain and simple. Quit spewing this horseshit that you hear on banker-TV where Cramer and the like shill for the banks in a (seemingly successful) attempt to mislead the gullible public.

Re:Banksters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44343371)

OK. How about someone in MF Global: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MF_Global#October_2011:_MF_Global_transfers_client_account_funds_to_its_own_account [wikipedia.org]

No matter what they say any decent accountant or banker will tell you that you can't "accidentally" transfer funds from some accounts to another. If you or I did the same thing we'd go to jail, even if it was temporary and we gave back all the money.

But quote: "As of August 16, 2012, criminal investigators had concluded charges against Corzine, or any other of MF Global's former executives or employees would be unlikely."

There's a reason for that. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44340807)

These are FOREIGN companies.

The banks are USA companies. They are not for raiding like a piggy bank when the sweeties are being bought.

But foreign companies are fine. The US citizen voters don't care if a "foreign" company gets slammed by "the man", whereas if a US company is being done up like a kipper (even if entirely reasonably so), there's huge screams from the libertards abut how government is "killing business".

No (or very little and limited) problems for "foreign" companies.

Re:There's a reason for that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44341591)

These are FOREIGN companies.

Indeed, a US company was convicted of price fixing tungsten carbide for machine tools with the Nazis both before AND DURING WW2 and only got a $20,000 fine and told not to do it again, in 1947.

Re:Banksters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44340845)

Because they are *local economy*.

They never did something like this to Microsoft for example. Microsoft didn't only stay out of jail for free, no they also got the "punishment" of installing copies of Windows & Office on school computers! Which of course cost them *absolutely nothing* to make, since they were mere copies, not actual work. But it gave them yet another bunch of children, trained to demand Windows on their home and job computers, and mentally crippled in terms of computer usage.

As somebody said: I believe that "corporations are people", when Texas starts executing them.
And really, if somebody in a company does a crime (for the company), then the *whole hierarchy above him* must also go to jail. Because that's the deal with being a boss: You don't only get to lead. You are also *responsible* for the results.

I want to see Exxon, as a whole, go to prison for what was *at least* as bad as mass-murder or terrorism on a massive scale. If the harm they did can even be measured at all.

Ditto for those Banks. Twice for Goldman Sachs. For Eli Lilly. For Monsanto. Also twice. And so on.

Re:Banksters (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44341069)

these yellow people going to jail are merely peons who make parts.

Your Jewish overlords who control the banks will never go to jail.

Re:Banksters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44342313)

bankers never go free , they went first class at the tax payers expense

Music and Movie industry (0)

high_rolla (1068540) | about 9 months ago | (#44340517)

Now if they could so similar for the Studios we may be onto a winner.

(Note: I realise the studios haven't been found to be doing this but why should we let something like that stop us? Little things like facts don't seem to stop the studios pulling similar stunts.)

Re:Music and Movie industry (0)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 9 months ago | (#44340557)

Bankers

Wall Street

Studios (music & movie)

Cable Internet Providers

. . .

If they really mean

"These investigations illustrate our efforts to ensure market fairness for U.S. businesses by bringing corporations to justice when their commercial activity violates antitrust laws."

Then they should pretty much all go to jail.

Oops. Almost forgot Obama. I mean, it's not like the revolving door had anything to do with this stuff, right? (/sarcasm)

internet yes, movies, yes, but banks ? (2)

raymorris (2726007) | about 9 months ago | (#44340603)

The current topic is price fixing.
Internet providers pay the politicians for a government enforced monopoly so they can set prices without effective competition in a market.
Movie studios use 90s Microsoft style tactics to exploit and maintain artificially high prices.

At bankrate.com, I see dozens of banks competing on price. Certainly some in the scumbags are in the financial sector, and many offer services that aren't easy to understand, but where's the price fixing by banks? Not to say there isn't any, but where? The big issue I've seen with banks is that they loaned a lot of money to people who couldn't afford to repay the loans. In the beginning they were forced to by the government, but when they figured out how to resell the bad loans at a profit, they continued doing so voluntarily.

Re:internet yes, movies, yes, but banks ? (4, Insightful)

noh8rz8 (2716593) | about 9 months ago | (#44340613)

libor. rate fixing to make borrowing more expensive and lending more profitable.

mobile phone should be on the list (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about 9 months ago | (#44340869)

Mobile phone charges should be on the list. Try getting a fair deal without a "sponsored" phone or getting support for a phone you haven't purchased with your plan. This can only be price fixing. Maybe there's no direct proof (yet) of phone companies negotiating about these, but it's sure odd that none of the big companies offer competitive no-sponsored-handset deals.

The same applies to roaming charges. The companies bill each other for those and only the difference actually gets paid. In reality, this means that most cell phone companies charge a lot for roaming charges but they never get to pay those to others than themselves. They are only needed to pay for interlinking to other providers, but the cost of these interlinks is way lower than the cost of the on-the-air part of mobile networks.

Lastly, paying by the second or by the amount of calls/texts you make is bogus. It's a data network and either you pay a flat fee, or you pay for the data you push over it. Charging differently because it's a voice or SMS protocol should be forbidden, it's 2013 now. Net Neutrality should be stretched to non-IP services as well. Especially if mobile providers want to block other services that are competing with their own voice or messaging platform. Any ISP, mobile or not should have responsible people that block these kinds of services spend some time with Bubba.

Re:internet yes, movies, yes, but banks ? (1)

cornjones (33009) | about 9 months ago | (#44340959)

You are speaking only about the consumer/retaion banking side. There is some competition in rates on the retail banking side but we still have problems with exorbitant fees that seem pretty collusive. The commercial and investment banking are more problematic.

One question i have had for some time that seems appropriate here is how there are such margins in banking? Why don't the competitive pressure in the banking industry drive down the margins? We have banking bonuses in teh billions of dollars going out and they are still making record profits. Doesn't economic logic dictate that in a competitive market place, another player would work for slimmer margins and drive the cost of the product (and therefore the margins) down?

Re:internet yes, movies, yes, but banks ? (1)

sjames (1099) | about 9 months ago | (#44342273)

If we had well regulated healthy markets, yes. But what we have is unregulated markets dominated by a few big players.

Frankly if you do that analysis all over our economy, you'll find a LOT of unhealthy markets.

Re:internet yes, movies, yes, but banks ? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 9 months ago | (#44344247)

Well, sale of high-risk derivative bundles that the banks know are high-risk but that are marketed as "conservative" investments might be construed as price-fixing.

And the Fed, while it has some other functions, is essentially price-fixing on a vast scale.

Asset forfeiture (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 9 months ago | (#44340537)

How about using it against someone besides some poor schmuck found with a roach in the ashtray? Beats the hell out of giving the bastard free room and board...

Re:Asset forfeiture (1)

Paradise Pete (33184) | about 9 months ago | (#44340607)

How about using it against someone besides some poor schmuck found with a roach in the ashtray? Beats the hell out of giving the bastard free room and board...

Yes, because making it profitable to arrest someone is such a good idea. What could possibly go wrong?

Re:Asset forfeiture (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 9 months ago | (#44341299)

Yes, because making it profitable to arrest someone is such a good idea. What could possibly go wrong?

That's already how it is. The state gets to seize anything used in the commission of a crime. The ability to seize property (both land and otherwise) is one of the big motivators for states to participate in the War On Personal Freedom (aka the War On Drugs.) What could possibly go wrong is selective enforcement, and not seizing these particlar ill-gotten gains is a prime example thereof. Bill Gates' fortune is another. Now it's been sunk into a tax dodge and is being used to spread restrictive IP laws like TRIPS.

Re:Asset forfeiture (1)

cffrost (885375) | about 9 months ago | (#44341645)

How about using it against someone besides some poor schmuck found with a roach in the ashtray? Beats the hell out of giving the bastard free room and board...

Yes, because making it profitable to arrest someone is such a good idea. What could possibly go wrong?

The possibilities are endless... They could make it illegal to carry "too much" cash. They could assume that someone they busted for selling dime-bags came by all of their possessions illegally — (guilty until proven innocent — that's our system, isn't it?). If things got really our of control, we might even live to see the day they build private prisons [wikipedia.org] in this country.

If it ever got to that point, though, we'd be well and truly fucked. Could you imagine the headlines? "US industrial prison system exceeds peak of Soviet gulag system!" [wikipedia.org]

Heh, yeah, right... I'd better off my aluminum foil hat now... I don't want to give myself nightmares.

look at me!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44340605)

Hi, I'm a sacrificial lamb.

Bummer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44340631)

Sanyo doesnt make a half bad AA rechargable either.

Re:Bummer (1)

PixetaledPikachu (1007305) | about 9 months ago | (#44341929)

I like their Eneloop lines of rechargeable AAs. I own 2 mid-range Pentax DSLRs and they use AA instead of proprietary Li-ions

Re:Bummer (1)

garyoa1 (2067072) | about 9 months ago | (#44342685)

Yeah but the problem with AA's is length of time before you have to change them. Lions are usually over 7 volts for one thing. So even if the camera has 4 AA's (6v) you're starting out your day with a weaker battery.

But if you're just an average shooter, maybe on vacation, you'll likely have to change them at least once in a day. Under the same conditions a lion will probably go for a week or more. And they generally charge in an hour or less.
When I got out of the AA cameras I was pleasantly surprised that one spare and I was good to go for a couple of weeks at a time. And I shoot with Pentax as well.

Re:Bummer (1)

sjames (1099) | about 9 months ago | (#44342295)

Why bummer? I doubt they'll exit the market, they'll just have to sell them a little cheaper now.

Unlike the toothless Australian tiger ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44340637)

Interesting to compare the US action to those of Australia where US companies have been involved in price fixing and anti-competitive behavior.

Re:Unlike the toothless Australian tiger ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44342065)

No, the Australian regulatory has a tooth, which means it only goes after companies one at a time... but not toothless.

Re:Unlike the toothless Australian tiger ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44343035)

No, the Australian regulatory has a tooth, which means it only goes after companies one at a time... but not toothless.

That's not true. The ACCC has hundreds of open cases, most of which are closed when the company (which is usually a small business) takes actions to resolve the issue and promises to do better in future. Their website has a list of big corporations who who were fined recently and there's someone new every week or so.

Not to mention they're a really useful resource for consumers to call and ask what their rights are, to be used in a dispute with a bill they want waived or something like that.

Yay! (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44340753)

Thank you for saving us from those evil auto parts people! They are so important. Unlike banks who are totally optional and not needed by everyone. You can totally do without money. Unlike car parts. And i'm sure those bankers didn't make one extra cent from all the dirty evil price fixing that happened.

Oh.... ... fuck...

Re:Yay! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44340849)

/me confirms that horse is dead

Someone start the class action (1)

maliqua (1316471) | about 9 months ago | (#44340835)

I could use some reimbursement on the countless batteries and misc crap i've apparently been f*cked on

Re:Someone start the class action (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44341279)

I could use some reimbursement on the countless batteries and misc crap i've apparently been f*cked on

And yet you think the $0.74 you'll get back as a result of a class-action lawsuit, while the other 90% goes to the lawyers and "fees", is the right and just outcome of you getting unfucked...

BS (1)

Reliable Windmill (2932227) | about 9 months ago | (#44340929)

Unfair prices for consumers of laptops... as long as you blatantly raise prices just because you can, like certain Adobe and Apple products costing 50% more outside of the U.S f.ex, then it's all fine apparently!

hi (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44340941)

v my co-worker's step-sister makes $83 hourly on the net. She has been discharged for 6 months however last month her pay check was $19589 simply acting on the net for a number of hours. Here's the location to scan additional Read more at... www.bay92.Co

hi (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44340957)

v my co-worker's step-sister makes $83 hourly on the net. She has been discharged for 6 months however last month her pay check was $19589 simply acting on the net for a number of hours. Here's the location to scan additional Read more at... .bay92.Co

The prison sentences 1 year to 2 years to be exact (2)

dicobalt (1536225) | about 9 months ago | (#44341251)

... but if I were to rob a bank or steal expensive objects worth millions I wold be in prison for 20 years.

And yet (0)

WillyWanker (1502057) | about 9 months ago | (#44342081)

Not a single Wall Street banker has been thrown in jail, despite dealings that nearly bankrupt the country and destabilized the global economy.

I'd think that's a bit more egregious behavior than price fixing car batteries. But clearly the US Government knows best how to protect us from unscrupulous business behavior.

Lies (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44342235)

Corporations own everything and run the government. There are no fines, no jail sentences, this can't happen. Obviously.

Editors, please check your sources in the future because you've been tricked by a fake story.

Prison is being misused (3, Interesting)

FuzzNugget (2840687) | about 9 months ago | (#44342807)

I really think prison is being misused by most of the world, especially the United States.

I believe it should only ever be used to separate the most extremely, immediately, physically and irremediably dangerous from the rest of us to keep society safe. I'm talking about murderers, rapists, violent assailants, the kind of people who commit extreme acts and intend to keep doing them. Putting the drug dealers and possessors, scammers, petty thieves, civil disputers, drunks, the negligent and so on costs us more than benefits.

This euphemism of "paying your debt to society" by spending time in a cement box always elicits uproarious laughter from me ... how is someone paying their debt when we're the ones footing the bill for their room and board??

Prison should never be about "paying your debt", not that it's even possible in that manner. If we want people to "pay their debt", garnish their wages and have them pay back the *exact people against whom they committed the acts*. If that's not enough, put them in community service or other work programs, where they'll actually be performing work that will repay society, not cost it.

Of course, there are underlying societal problems (poverty, increasing class inequality, antagonistic political attitudes, inadequate healthcare for the mentally ill) that are deeply rooted in reasons we send people to prison. It's just so much easier to throw them in a box than it is to address the real problems at their core. Law, it seems, has grown into this trolling monster that exists only to perpetuate itself while falsely purporting to serve the public.

Re:Prison is being misused (3, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 9 months ago | (#44343529)

Sadly, The People respond positively when it is announced that "criminals" have been imprisoned for their "crimes" almost regardless of why. In general there is a tendency to believe that they wouldn't have locked them up unless they were dangerous. But there are at least two obvious retorts, the first of which is that it is profitable to have a large machine which employs people in the pursuit of locking people up, and the second of which being that people who look for danger find it everywhere, and it's easy to get carried away even (or perhaps especially) when acting with the best of intentions.

Everyone fixes prices. (1)

garyoa1 (2067072) | about 9 months ago | (#44342879)

Phones, tablets, game consoles... they all do it.

There's been a bunch of web sites that have torn down these products and priced the parts. They all come close to the retail price of the product. But no one takes into consideration that these companies order parts by the millions (If they don't make some themselves).

How do they put a corporation in jail? (1)

hendrikboom (1001110) | about 9 months ago | (#44343515)

How do they put a corporation in jail?

Re:How do they put a corporation in jail? (1)

runeghost (2509522) | about 9 months ago | (#44343927)

Prohibit it from doing business for a period of time? What? You're saying that would hurt it? As in, might actually be a penalty?

Foreign Companies (3, Insightful)

runeghost (2509522) | about 9 months ago | (#44343945)

Obviously, they haven't mastered the fine American art of purchasing politicans and judges.
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